Raining in Laos
Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
43Trip End Ongoing
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Luang Prabang also had the greatest selection of amazing street food we have seen: one street was full of old women making huge fresh filled baguettes, another street made pancakes and fried battered bananas, and one street was chocker with people and their sizzling bbq's - we could buy sausage, buffalo, foot-long fish, whole chickens, racks on pork ribs and know it was fresh because all those animals had been spotted beside the Mekong river just moments before
After crossing China three times we vowed to stop taking stupidly long bus journeys so we broke up the 7hour journey to VangVieng by stopping in PhoKouen. This was a small town at the crossroads between the 2 major roads through the north of Laos. It was only about 1km long but this place was completely off its head. Within 15seconds of getting off the bus we were invited to a roadside party and given a room above the shenanigans. For about 3hours we tried to find out why they were having a party but only succeeded in being introduced to more and more people who wanted to forcefead us beer Laos. Everyone was connected - 'this my uncle, this my grandfather of neighbour, this sister of neighbours uncle's nephews friends dog owners auntie. The music was provided by someone on a Yamaha keyboard and whoever was sober enough to shout down the microphone. A 15 year old kept telling us this was 'the new sound of Laos house.' It sounded just like the demo button on the Tomy keyboard I had when I was six years old. However, everyone danced enthusiastically and we felt like pop stars because everyone wanted to have a boogie with the two foreigners. In between dances we would sit down to a fresh plate of food and be introduced to a further member of the community. Their hospitality was incredible and most importantly the supply of Beer Laos was endless - a very special place.
We carried on the next day to Vang Vieng. 5 years ago a friend went to Laos and came back with stories about tubing and I have dreamt about it ever since. You sit in a large rubber inner tube and float casually down a river admiring the stunning karst scenery
The problem with places like this is that inevitably attracts a bunch of young annoying ignorant pissed up Brits. These are the second type of people to avoid in uncomfortable situations. They are easily spotted - they always come in groups, carry 110liter backpacks full to the brim, and believe that respecting local customs involves singing "England boys we are here, shag your women drink your beer." A Polish guy we met admitted he knew immigrants who went to England to rob, steal and make a mess, but "at least we don't boast about it" he poignantly stated. These people are normally good banter for about 10minutes until Tom will introduce himself for the third time, Rob will fall of his seat and piss himself, and Gary will vomit on your leg. All this and its not even 5pm. You then go to the toilet and find "Hamshire boys tom rob gary having it large in Laos" graffiti-ed on the wall and return to find they've split you beer all over the bar
Back to Vang Vieng. We wanted to stay longer and go tubing everyday for a week but 6days ago it started raining. Not the spectacular monsoon rain but the peculiarly British kind of drizzle. It has only just stopped. Living in a wooden bungalow isn't the same when its damp so we left for Vientiane and I convinced Kerry it would be a good idea to kayak part of the way. All was well until we approached a rapid and the guy shouted "remember, always middle, not right, not left, always middle." Thats easy for you to say but when the current has forced you into a rock, spun you round and sent you careering into the rapid backwards, it was time to concentrate on praying and not steering. We were ejected and bobbed and the guide watched as two heads bobbed in and out of the water for 30metres
Its unbelievable to think that Vientiane is actually a capital city. We walked around it twice in half an hour but could only find expensive (30$) hotels where half the money your paying is for the satellite television with 76channels of Chinese soap operas. We got lucky because a Pakistani man rode past and offered us his spare room - he emigrated here 7years ago, built a huge house and doesn't know what to do with it. For 3quid a night we have a huge double room and get fed by his wife who cooks a delicious blend of Laos-Pakistani cuisine. There's not much to do in Vientiane but stand in the rain and get nostalgic of England, but we had to stay over the weekend to wait for the immigration office to open today and extend our visas. Each day we've headed to a shooting range to try out various guns before drinking some beer and going bowling. And then write this blog thats seems to be going on forever. Bye bye.